We traveled across continents to start a trip of a lifetime, cameras poised, carry-ons rolling behind us, guide books pocketed and passports placed where no one should find them. (This often made it difficult to access the Euro’s we had unwittingly stashed alongside the well hidden passports.) Paris was our first stop and we had heard that the locals were proud and stubborn. They were “Parisians” and I was supposed to understand what that meant and be ready.
I will admit, we struggled communicating with those around us as. High school Spanish and a brief stint with Mandarin Chinese didn’t come into play when walking through the shops. We turned to improvised sign language and translation apps to work our way through the hungry crowds of diners, finding sanctuary at tables for 5, thankful that they served ice cold water and wine to quench our thirsts. Declared the hottest summer in Europe for decades, we persisted with our adventure, anxiously exploring across unknown cobblestone streets and back alleyways, seeking shade and history, finding amazing architecture juxtaposed among artist’s unique offerings. I was really taken with the street art which seemed to spring up in the most interesting places.
We packed onto the crowded Metro and I looked past my family at the passengers filling seats and grabbing onto the bars. At that moment, I realized that we are really all the same. We are all living our lives day to day the best way that we can. We are working to keep the food on the table. Every morning we put our shoes on and stride into the unknown only to arrive back home to lay our heads on the pillow, allowing our distant dreams to filter in until that alarm goes off. Then we get up and do it again. My hope is that we always look for the smiles and the purpose and the reason to turn those just beyond our grasp dreams into reality. We need to be walking into the sunshine and out of the shadows.
Exiting the train we found our selves at Montmartre and entered a massive awe inspiring basilica called Sacre-Coeur or Sacred Heart. It was cool inside and a welcomed destination. People from all over the world walk through this beautiful structure and find peace, even if just for a moment. I found myself watching all heads turn to look up as gentle light poured in. I felt as if you listened very carefully you might hear the flutter of angel wings or the songs of the ages playing for you and you alone.
We left a part of us in each city, in each cafe, in each museum, in each cathedral, in each heart of the special people that we got to know. Sometimes it takes walking through a different world to realize that we are all really one.